Mt. Rainier and Lenticular Clouds - Dec. 2008 copyright: JMM

September 11, 2007

Montessori For Dogs??

As you guys know, we dote on our two doggies, Pepper and Sagan. When we first got Pepper, we used to take her to Sumner Vet's "doggie daycare" program once a week. She seemed to like it at the beginning, but a few months later when I asked one of the techs how she interacts with the other dogs and if she has a good time, I was told that she enjoyed day care if there were only 3-4 dogs, but if there were more, she mostly hung around with the humans or stayed to herself. We decided that it was a waste of our money if she wasn't having fun, so we stopped taking her and instead she has the run of the house when we are at work.

Sagan, on the other hand, "Mr. Social", is so friendly and outgoing, that he took to doggie daycare like a duck to water. He goes once a week, sometimes twice a week in the winter if it's too rainy to let him play in the backyard. It was a good deal at $100 for 5 visits.

Sumner Vet is an amazing animal hospital and they opened their new digs a year or so ago. Everything you could want for your pet is contained at Sumner Vet: hospital, grooming, boarding, daycare, toys, special foods, chewstix, etc. On the other side of the parking lot is a large building where they do agility and obediance school. Dr. Dani Munson is a very personable doctor and it's great to see her come through the exam room door with a huge smile and dive onto the floor to smother our furchildren with kisses and hugs. She clearly loves her job.Yesterday Brian called them to make a grooming appointment for Sagan while he is at daycare this week or next. While on the phone, they told him that they had made significant changes to the program. The price was going up to $175 for 5 visits, and you now had to call in advance to make a reservation for daycare (instead of stopping by on the way to work w/ the dog) because the current situation is so overcrowded that the dogs are overstimulated and they needed to make a change in how they conducted the daycare. Well, OK, what are you gonna do, right?'s in Sagan's best interest to go to daycare and we want to do what's best for our little guy.

Just out of curiosity, I went to their website to see what changes they made. "Daycare" called "Canine Activity Program". The more I read, the harder I laughed. I mean, what they are doing is so, um, "Marin County", so "Northern California", so "touchy feely". I've now taken to calling it "Montessori for Dogs". The "bodywork" is what really cracked me up though. Sagan's going to be more spoiled at daycare than he is at home. Just as long as he doesn't come home singing "kum-bi-ya" we should be fine.

Oh, and by the way, is there a "Human Daycare" I can go to that has some of these bells & whistles? All joking aside, we could not ask for a better vet, we are very lucky to have them just down the hill from us and it's a relief to know that our precious pups are receiving the best care.

Here's the description of the new program:

At Sumner Veterinary Hospital we're as committed to your dog's happiness and well being as you are. Since January 2000, our doggie daycare has provided pups with a fun, friendly, action-packed alternative to lonely days at home. You wouldn’t think we could improve on a service like that, but we have. A recent study analyzing dogs’ behavior at doggy daycares reports hours of group dog play is not always good for dogs. Repeated exposure to high levels of excitement was correlated with behavior problems such as hyperactivity, barking, anxiety and health problems such as diarrhea and skin problems. On the other hand, an activity schedule that alternates high-energy play with individualized training, games, tactile stimulation and naps prevents the undesirable effects of dogs being “over-adrenalized”.

So, as we lead the way in canine care we are pleased to present our new alternative to traditional daycare, the Canine Activity Program; Balancing mind, body and social development. Every day is filled with stimulation, interaction and play as well as nap and chew time, in a clean, healthy, fun and nurturing environment.

Our enthusiastic dog-loving staff will mix group play and training with a variety of other activities to meet your dog’s social, physical and mental needs. Our mission is to teach dogs skills that will keep them well integrated with your family and well-behaved in a wide variety of situations. We know your dogs will be better behaved because they have attended our personalized program.

Our new activities include:

Indoor group play. We understand dogs and their need to exercise. Our play groups are kept small and play is directed by our highly trained daycare staff so your dog has an opportunity to get exercise, learn proper social skills and gain confidence in a safe, controlled environment.
Individual training at It’s a Dog’s World, our Training and Agility Center. Our one-on-one training focuses on important manners needed for daily life such as loose leash walking, doorway manners and coming when called. We also train tricks for mental stimulation. We use only positive reinforcement in the training program, motivating the dogs with food treats, toys and praise.
Outdoor leash walks. We have acres of room to create an outdoor walking experience where dogs are taught to walk with a loose leash and learn to respond to their handler when presented with distractions. Our staff keeps safety as the primary focal point and the dogs love the opportunity to potty outdoors.
Outdoor group play. Our outdoor play yard has over 3000 square feet of play area with secure fencing and double-gated entryways. Our play groups are kept small and play is directed by our daycare staff and interactive play such as fetch and tug are taught so dogs learn to play while demonstrating excellent manners and honoring their playmates.

Bodywork. In the afternoons, each daycare dog will receive an individual session of hands-on stroking, cuddling or grooming. Depending on the needs of the individual dog, this may be time for an after-play rub down, a brush-out of shedding fur, or desensitization to nail trims or body-handling.

Nap Time & Food Puzzles. Since chewing is a natural stress relieving activity for dogs; naptimes will include a food-dispensing toy such as a Kong™ or Twist & Treat™, packed with healthy yummy food for each dog. Special dietary needs can be accommodated and our daycare attendants will choose a food puzzle that is most suitable to your dogs chewing style. As you can see by our remarkable activity lineup, your pet will have a daily experience that cannot be outshined. Our activity instructors are committed to our thrilling program and have prepared not only the activity schedule but have spent countless hours using continuing education and experimentation to develop the Canine Activity Program.

With this in mind, we invite you to be pioneers with us. At Sumner Veterinary Hospital, we have never been satisfied with being “good enough”. Instead, we strive to lead the pack by providing innovative services that improve the lives of dogs and their families. By creating the Canine Activity Program using recreation and education, we can meet the social, mental and physical needs of your dog in a more balanced way. This holistic approach to a day activity program will help develop healthy, well-behaved dogs that are a joy to live with. And what could be better than that? Enrolling your companion in our progressive day program will not only enhance the relationship between you and your dog but it will also enrich your dog’s life.


  1. Lizzard6:39 PM

    SOunds like my next career!

  2. See, this would never work with cats!

  3. oh, i'd give a year's pay to hear kumbaya "sung" by a dog. it's too bad that pepper doesn't take daycare. loganne, being the social butterfly that she is, does enjoy doggie day care...she tires out everyone!
    and why not cats, tess?

  4. I forgot to mention that the only thing missing from this program is Arts & Crafts.

    Fen-I'm up for the challenge...I'll be instructing Sagan over the next few months, so get yer checkbook out. ;P

  5. that is kind of cool. i love that you take such good care of your babies. they are so important to you. i hate seeing people who don't care for their animals very well. like one of my neighbors who let's her pit bull out all day while they are gone at work until the evening when they get home from work. and the dog barks all day and wakes me other neighbors baby up and attacks the fence that seperates them everytime she goes into her back yard. it's just a mess. it's nice to hear that your dogs are being well cared for

  6. Sagan is going to be insufferable at home after "group" day.

  7. Great place for the fur babies Jo, sounds like good Vets too.
    Mine gets it all at home as I am here all the time with her. Jean

  8. ...and you'll need to submit the video of your doggy singing classes to america's funniest videos!!!

  9. I have taught many children who would benefit from something like this...

    Susan, I don't think you can ever have had a close relationship with a cat. They are completely contrary and would negate everything the carers tried to do. You would also pay for the betrayal at home for days.

  10. Kris - I'm really concerned for your neighbor's dog! The poor thing. I know it's really easy to get angry at the dog for barking nonstop, but it's the owners who are at fault.

    Yeah, cats are too independent and haughty to ever attempt this kind of structured day care for them. They seem to prefer being left alone, whereas dogs are more social and benefit from the play group.

  11. man, i wish i had a daycare as fun and exciting as the pets daycare! lol. your dogs are just gorgeous. i use to have a german shepard way back when. they're good, tame and protective breeds.

  12. Laurel - Sweet and goofy too. It's really hard to muster up any kind of fear of Sagan when he is running around the house with a squeak toy in his mouth, then looks at you with those huge brown eyes.

  13. Gee, I could use a day at that place!

  14. Kristy3:17 AM

    I have heard great things about this vet center. I wish I had something like that just a little closer to me. The price still sounds do-able if he's only going once a week or so. I'll have to check around to see what's in my area.